Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Season 2012 Regional Wrap Up

The 2012 Tour’s last Regional Event took place on Sunday morning at the Sycuan Indian Reservation Casino in a race between the US Air Force Academy and Team SO-FLO. This picturesque setting in the hills of San Diego County was matched by incredible weather and an outstanding host. The USAFA team jumped out to a big lead and looked like they were going to top the fastest time of the season set by Montgomery when Tank McMurtry fell at the finish line. In what can only be described as an Olympic moment, Tank regained his footing and dragged Rescue Randy home, winning by .06 seconds with a time of 1:14.21. This put the proverbial cherry on the sundae, adding to their US National Title.
2012 US National Champions, US Air Force Academy Team, Staff and FCC Members

What we lacked by way of numbers, we more than made up for in some of the best competition of the season- a preview of what awaits us in Myrtle Beach in only two short weeks. You’ll recall that for the past two seasons we had attempted to work out details and logistics to put the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge on the weather deck of the USS Midway, the decommissioned aircraft carrier now parked on the dock in the San Diego harbor. This become the proverbial “Bridge Too Far” (after the Allied Forces objective in the Battle of the Bulge). It was a bold idea, but stretched our schedule details to the breaking point. The better news is that we have several venues of interest for San Diego and will pursue these with an objective of securing them with lots of ramp up time for next season. 

With an important meeting at the Pentagon scheduled for Tuesday morning, and hurricane Sandy looming ominously off the coast, I thought it best to hightail it out of town Sunday. The staff of Southwest Airlines could not have been more accommodating. We got the last two seats on the last departing flight to arrive Sunday evening and wait out the storm of epic proportions. All of this is now going in the record books. 

Like every catastrophe, firefighters will be the first on the scene, and there’s going to be one gigantic collective “scene” spanning hundreds of miles in the wake of Sandy. A big shout out to all of you and especially the FFs who will be putting in the long hours this week. 

The Road Crew is presently scattered across the nation, hence the lack of photos and video; but standby, as soon as we can get connected, you’ll see the uploads. 

See you in Myrtle Beach. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Introducing the New and Improved Lion Forum

Providing our Challenge community with a forum for posting relevant and productive information has suffered from a lack of oversight and management. We’re fixing all of that with the addition of Chuck Benslay as the Forum Manager. His bio follows...

Chuck Benslay
Chuck Benslay has been a firefighter in the Indianapolis area since 1993.  He began as a volunteer firefighter for the Warren Township Volunteer Fire Department on the East side of Indianapolis.  He was hired by the Lawrence Township Fire Department in 1997.  Chuck served Lawrence Township as the Department’s Haz-Mat Coordinator and Drug Program Manager for several years.  Chuck was also a member of Indiana Task Force One, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team where he spent several days in Biloxi and Gulfport Mississippi during hurricane Katrina in 2005.  He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2006 and assigned to an Engine Company in the Castleton area of Indianapolis.  Chuck also served a year in LTFD’s Education and Safety Division where he trained recruits and firefighters in Haz-Mat, Firefighting and Special Operations.  In 2011 the Lawrence Township Fire Department merged with the Indianapolis Fire Department.  Chuck now serves as a Private on an Engine Company and Swift Water Team in the Geist area of Indianapolis.  Chuck works part-time as a website developer and IT specialist.

Chuck was married to his lovely wife Laura in 2001.  Between the two of them, they have 3 children in their early 20’s and 1 grandson.  In their free time, they enjoy hiking and camping. 

Chuck first competed in the Firefighter Combat Challenge in 1998 and has a PR of 2:35 which he still hopes to beat some day.

After competing in this year’s Chicago area event, Chuck wanted to provide a perspective that I felt to be missing...that of the “typical” (if there is such an animal) firefighter who had first participated many years ago and was now returning to the competition after an extended absence. I feel that there needs to be a mentor who understands the daunting task of starting from scratch. 

You’ll note the new graphic and hyperlink on the home page, leading to Chuck’s Corner. We hope that you’ll visit often and feel free to express your insights and opinions on the wide-ranging subjects that make the Challenge all that it is. We wish to thank our partner Lion for their continued support of the North American fire service. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Slovenia III

There have been some spectacular venues for the Challenge, but you would be have to reach far down the well of superlatives to find a better one than Bled, Slovenia. More than 100 Participants from across Europe descended on this town of 5,000 for three days of competition. You may recall that Bled is the venue for the World Cup rowing championships and the subject of an earlier BlogSpot. The Slovenian national single, doubles and fours were going on during our event. 

I attended a concert provided by the National Police Band. It's hard to believe that these extraordinary musicians- professionals in their own right- are also cops (see  http://youtu.be/UwJBzS2VcRE).

A couple of photos provide a perspective that you'll not witness anywhere else- note the castle, constructed in the 1200's overlooking the site. 

The final race was fitting as the proverbial cherry on the sundae. Ramstein AFB faced the
Szczecin (Poland) team. The USAF got off to a good start, but were passed on the Keiser. By the time the US reached the dummy, the Poles had a 3-4m lead. The dummy dragger caught the poles at the finish line and had a margin of .25 seconds for the win. 

You're going to get to see and meet a number of these great athletes in Myrtle Beach as well as other locations in the future. 

If you had been there, you would not know that you were 5,000 miles from home. The Challenge is truly becoming a global sport as the excitement spreads across the universe of firefighters. 

There were sponsor exhibits; my favorite was the Stihl woodcarver with his variety of chainsaws and power tools. http://youtu.be/h194XcKRUyA

The Stihl Exhibit at the Slovenian Challenge